The Secret To Better Abdominal Workouts - Revealed

core Dec 05, 2015

Today I would like to tell you about a few really important things to watch out for when doing abdominal work. Whether your choice of practice is Pilates, yoga or any other style of exercise, each time you are doing abdominal work on the floor, the concepts that I'm about to show you are crucial to their efficiency and your safety.

Let's say you are doing sit ups or crunches. Imagine yourself lying on your back. You have your hands behind your head and then you will probably try to roll up as high as you can and return down. You probably see your belly popping up and your pelvis tilts up a bit (pubic bone and tailbone are pointing to the ceiling). You might even be squeezing your butt. Doing sit ups this way, is beneficial in working the rectus abdominis. (The long straight abdominal muscle connecting the sternum with the pubic bone.) This is a good muscle to work, but if you are looking for support of the lumbar spine, the part of the core that strengthens your back, you will need to work a deeper layer of abdominals, mostly the transversus abdominis.

Take a look at the video below to learn how to do that correctly. In the notes below the video I have a reminder that you can read through often. Wisdom, after all, is not knowing, but remembering. Knowing is easy in times of the internet. But do you remember what's really important?


Here is how you can do this...

  • Start with a deep inhalation into your ribcage.
  • On the exhalation let your belly sink deep into the body.
  • Inhale to draw the breath up into the chest then exhale as you bring the belly button deep into the body instead of pressing it out. This is crucial and often much more difficult as it seems.

Another thing we often do during conventional abdominal work is leave a little bit of space underneath the lower back. In the past few years, the fitness scene has been all over the 'neutral spine'. And I absolutely support that. But the problem is, that most of us have such weak abdominals that we are unable to stabilize our neutral spine. Joseph Pilates wrote in his book Return to Life Through Contrology to press the back into the floor. And he knew what he was talking about. If you don't believe me, just try the same exercise with a bit of space under your back and then without and notice how much your abdominals are working. I bet they are working much harder with the back flat.

So, when you exhale, imprint your back (especially the sides, not just the spine) into the floor and notice how much harder your abdominals have to work. Try not to let the tailbone come up because that's when the belly comes up. This is the most common way to cheat here. It's easy to imprint by rocking the pelvis. Leave your hips alone, and start using your abs.

If you do this for just a couple of breaths you will really feel the deep abdominal muscles work and even just the breathing part can be intense.

Now we will add the head and shoulder movement...

  • Place your hands behind your head.
  • Bring your elbows forward. By keeping the elbows open we tend to lift our shoulders up towards the ears. This will tighten the trapezius muscles which is usually super tight already in many of us from too much desk work.
  • Inhale to prepare and on the exhalation lift the head and shoulders up as you sink your belly down and into the body and let your lower back melt down into the floor, without tilting the tailbone up. Let the pelvis remain in the same position.
  • Then inhale to relax back down. Make sure your head feels heavy in your hands.

You can use this advice in any other abdominal exercises that you are doing. There are so many variations it can be used with.

Thank you so much for reading and good luck!

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